Bags with logos too last century for Paris craftsman
There's something missing from the handbags that adorn the shelves of Serge Amoruso's Paris boutique. It's certainly not the hefty price tag or the top quality craftmanship.
What you won't find, however, is that universal badge of 1990s consumerism -- a logo.
Amoruso's message is clear. Exclusivity is what his customers -- many of them from China and Japan -- now want, and they don't mind paying for it.
Amid a feeling that some brands have become so popular they have lost their cachet, those with deep pockets are now looking to craftsmen like Amoruso to restore a sense of mystique to their purchases.
For Amoruso's customers the purchasing experience begins not with a queue in the rain around a department store but with a one-to-one meeting.
Together they shape the bag, selecting everything from the style and the type of leather down to details like the clasp and the fabric for the lining.
Amoruso, who also makes a range of other luxury leather items such as wallets and cigarette holders, goes to Japan at least twice a year where he does half of all his business.
With his two apprentices, he makes around 100 bags a year with an average price of about 2,500 euros ($3,400).
"Every piece is a story and my clients are looking for that," he said.
"One Japanese client came to me for an iPad case. He ended up asking me for a suitcase," he said.
"It took eight months to produce this item in buffalo leather... It cost the client dear but he knew that I was going to surpass all his expectations."
Chinese clients often ask him to engrave the bag with a lucky number.
- 'Marketing, not quality' -
Amoruso's passion for leather goes back to his childhood when he first experimented with a leather skirt that belonged to his mother and later realised that "with this material... you can do anything".
After school and a spell of specialist training he went straight to Hermes where he spent seven years.
"I had access to fabulous materials. I discovered a universe, taste, elegance," he said.
Over the years, nearly all the luxury houses have asked him to create pieces for them.
But he has always declined, insisting that he is "not a sub-contractor" and preferring instead to stamp his signature on each piece -- albeit not in the form of a logo.
In particular, Amoruso is known for his skill with exotic stingray leather. "We were always told we could not do a stingray bag so I worked to get there and succeeded," he said.
But he is keen to stress that he is not interested in technical mastery for its own sake, but only if it is deployed "in the service of beauty".
Everything must be about "the emotion which emanates from the object", he said.
And for the discerning customer, everything is possible at his workshop in eastern Paris where there are no machines and everything is done by hand.
But logos will remain absent from his work.
"We'd come to believe that luxury was to have a bag with a logo. But that was only marketing, not quality," he said.